Pediatric physiotherapy is effective in the management of perinatal conditions, conditions diagnosed in early childhood, and injuries sustained throughout childhood and the transition to adult care. Pediatric physiotherapy improves physical function and quality of life. Its long-term benefits are significant and include reducing disability and the need for surgery or other more costly invasive interventions resulting in a decreased burden on future use of health care services.
Pediatric physiotherapy services treat a wide variety of acute and chronic conditions in different settings, from acute care hospitals, to the community and schools. Pediatric physiotherapists assess, diagnose and treat neurological, developmental, cardiorespiratory and orthopedic conditions in children up to 18 years of age, with a focus on improving function and increasing independence. Physiotherapy has a positive and significant impact on pulmonary function, motor control, muscle strength, and physical endurance in pediatric patients with chronic conditions such as cerebral palsy, cystic fibrosis, and juvenile idiopathic arthritis.
Pediatric physiotherapists help children to achieve their optimal physical development. They have specialist knowledge in the movement, development and conditions that are likely to affect the baby and growing child and treat from 1-day-old babies to adolescents. Treatment may involve soft tissue massage, mobilization, stretching, specific therapeutic exercises and posture education. Because Children are not small adults these therapists encourage children to move to the best of their abilities through play and age-appropriate fun and instruction. The physiotherapist will inevitably work within the context of the child and his family and have the opportunity to work with the child in a range of situations extending into home, preschool groups, education and leisure activities.
Because of the complex needs of the child and the family, the physiotherapist may work with many other disciplines including medical, nursing, social work, educational and care staff, psychological and psychiatric teams as well as speech and occupational therapists. The physiotherapist working in such teams must be able to communicate his/her observations, assessments and treatment plans to the child, his parents and other members of the team. To work effectively and efficiently the pediatric physiotherapist must in addition to his physiotherapy skills, have a clear understanding of the development process of the childhood, primitive reflex patterns and pediatric illness and disability.
Pediatric physiotherapist can provide specialized physiotherapy treatment for children aged between 0 and 18 years that have difficulty with their physical development as a result of neurological and/or developmental problems. Neurological conditions can be as a result of problems with the brain, spinal cord or peripheral nerves. Babies and/or children with neurological conditions may have difficulties with their physical functions including mobility, muscle strength, range of movement and balance.
Pediatric physiotherapists have extensive experience in a variety of neurological pediatric conditions including:
- Gross motor delay
- Autism Spectrum Disorder
- Cerebral Palsy
- Developmental Coordination Disorder
- Down Syndrome
- Spina Bifida
- Acquired Brain Injury
- Muscular Dystrophy or other neuromuscular challenges
- Other genetic disorders
- Weight challenges
Initial assessment of your child will include their development, movement, strength and balance in order to produce a structured treatment program which may include:
- Re-educating normal movement patterns
- Balance training
- Improving standing and quality of walking
- Advice and support for parents and or teachers
- Milestone development
- Working on fine and gross motor skills
Paediatric physiotherapists have expert skills in the assessment, identification and diagnosis of, and treatment of child development and movement difficulties. Pediatric physiotherapists have highly developed hands on skills, which we use with a big dash of fun, creativity and playfulness, to develop individualized therapy programs for each of our clients. The treatment programs are aimed to optimize the health, well-being, and abilities of each child to enable them to move and participate in everyday activities, like playing, learning, going to school, and being part of a family and community. Children with developmental problems may have difficulty at reaching his/her developmental milestones by a time or age that is expected. Developmental milestones are tasks most children learn or develop that commonly appear in certain age ranges. For example, head control, rolling, crawling, walking and talking. Physiotherapy treatment for children with neurological or developmental problems will help to maximize their potential and promote physical development to reach specific milestones (e.g. rolling, crawling and walking).
The types of movement disorders or movement difficulties Pediatric physiotherapists can help with vary greatly, but can include:
- Babies and children who are slower to achieve their motor milestones, e.g.: babies who are late to learn to sit, crawl or walk
- Babies and children who are using unusual patterns to move eg: w-sitting or bottom shuffling or toe walking
- Children who are having difficulty with motor skills, such as jumping/hopping or ball skills
- Toddlers and babies who are clumsy or uncoordinated
- Children following an injury or trauma who require rehabilitation to get back to their best
- Children with rumination